Education December 4, 2020
Kerala government says full scholarship amount will be given to children with disabilities after elections
Amidst conflicting reports that the Kerala government is going to cut down the travel allowance from the yearly scholarship of ₹ 28,500 for children with disabilities, comes some good news. Speaking to Newz Hook, Kerala Social Security Mission Head Mohammed Asheel has clarified that the full scholarship, including the travel allowance, will be provided soon.
Over the past few weeks, there has been widespread criticism from disability rights groups and parents of disabled children regarding the Kerala government’s move to cut down the travel expense allowance given to students with intellectual disabilities from their yearly scholarship of ₹ 28,500.
This was a huge setback for many parents who rely on the amount to meet expenses. Coming in the midst of the pandemic, the news was especially disturbing.
Now the air has been cleared. Speaking to Newz Hook, the Kerala Social Security Mission Head Mohammed Asheel has said that the full amount will be disbursed by the Local Self-Government Department (LSGD), which is great news indeed.
Ray of hope
Nearly one lakh students with intellectual and other disabilities are beneficiaries of the annual scholarship. Apart from travel, it includes education, dress, books and tour allowance as well. Due to schools shutting down amidst the pandemic, children were not using any mode of transport to go to school. This is what prompted the LSGD to initiate cutting down travel expenses, but grant rest of the amount.
Not just disability rights groups but parents are also opposed to this. Since most of them are unable to go for work and have to stay home to take care of their children, every penny counts.
It is true that there was a discussion regarding cutting down travel allowances since kids aren’t attending school now. But since there are many students who needs this amount, the LSGD is ready to give the full amount. Since elections are round the corner, there is a delay. But the beneficiaries will receive it and the full amount will be disbursed. – Mohammad Asheel, Executive Director, Kerala Social Security Mission
It was in the year 2017 that LSGD decided to allot funds for children with disabilities to meet their yearly expenses. This was much appreciated by parents, especially from economically backward families. However, reports are that only around 429 village panchayats and corporations could successfully disburse the amount. The reason was lack of funds.
Struggle of parents
In a video circulating widely on social media, a parent who has a child with autism pleads with government authorities to not cut down benefits any further. She says that for many parents, especially mothers who are unable to go for work to take care of their children since there are no schools, their financial crunches are huge.
“Most of these disabled children are ones with multiple disabilities, cerebral palsy or autism. For a year now, they have been indoors due to Covid. Taking care of them is not easy for parents since they cannot be left with someone else for even an hour. Many parents are not going for work to take care of the child. Or at least one parent has to stay home. There are many mothers who are daily wage workers and not every parent is a government employee. They are awaiting for this scholarship money to make ends meet. There are countries that take lifelong care of such children, how can this government cut down the amount given in the name of scholarship?”, says the mother in the video.
Seema Lal, Co-founder, TogetherWeCan, a parent support group, says the government needs to show greater sensitivity during these trying times.
“Yesterday was world disability day. We should be reaching a stage where persons and families of people with disabilities gets what they need as a matter of right than request. But even now, we are having to ‘ask’, beg and make noise of everything until we are heard. We will continue to do so until taking care of rights becomes duty of the state”, she says.
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